I Hate WordPress

17 December 2004

This is not a knee-jerk opinion. It is a lengthy and balanced opinion that it has taken a good deal of time to reach. But the long and the short of it is that I really, really hate WordPress.

Perhaps “hate” is too strong a word. But it infuriates me to points that no piece of software ever should, and that’s not a good thing in it’s favour. “But Tom,” you say, “doesn’t infovore run on a battered old version of Movable Type?” Yes, it does. I’ve been using WordPress for another project, on a different server. It was ideally suited to task – good quality blogging engine supporting permalinks, archive, and trackback, which runs on PHP and MySQL, and involves minimum outlay (ie free).

WordPress fits the bill perfectly. Unfortunately, it’s littered with incomplete features – Administrator not being able to see other users public drafts; functionality to show single categories and single category archives (very, very easy in Moable Type) non existent without hacking the sourcecode. It doesn’t like dealing with multiple blogs without persuasion, and it really, really doesn’t like running a blog in a directory other than the one the scripts are installed in.

It’s a fairly impressive piece of software, I don’t deny, and I’m sure everyone is working really hard on the next version. If this was in a piece of software at version 0.7 I could just about understand.

But it’s not. WordPress is at 1.3 now, which frankly, is nonsense. I’m not asking for much, but 1.3 suggests something approaching a degree of finishedness, and that’s sorely lacking – some of the developers seem surprised when people find features that aren’t, as it were.

Added to that is the support forum, which is currently one of my least favourite places on the net. Post after post after post, all suggesting kludgey, amateurish hacks to the source code, none of which bear much similarity, none of which are backed up with authority. And then there’s all the people tempted by the free blogging software, befuddled by CSS, who repeatedly state that they are “well versed in HTML” or “skilled designers” but “it’s just the CSS” that foxes them. Which is nonsense.

And then you get all the guys who jump on the Web Standards bandwagon but they’re not sure why. It’s a complete mess; numpty CSS issues are resolved but never explained, just cursorily dealt with and pointed towards the many sites exxplaining the Box Model bug.

CSS is getting where table-layout was when it was hitting the hugetime – everyone knows it’s the way forward, but they’re not so hot at it, so they’ll bodge away.

Movable Type, despite it’s flaws, and acknowldging the fact it’s more established, is streets ahead; in part, because it was coded by a very small, very tight team, who were imaginative enough to see its potential. Sure, it’s blogging software, but it could be used as a quite powerful CMS – and that’s evident in its design. And now, it’s honestly worth paying for.

In fact, I think the real problem with WordPress is that it is Open Source; too many cooks hacking the broth, so to speak. Everyone’s free to dive in and bugfix; no-one’s responsible for the big problems. Combined with finishing off someone else’s work, and a stubborn insistence on sticking to the blog format, and to as few physical pages as possible, and it ends up being a mess. Bits of it are great, and I love the concept – and, obviously, it fits the blogging bill for a lot of people.

But if you’re me, it’s phenomenally frustrating, unfinished, and could well be another nail in the coffin for webdesign. And that’s why I, Tom Armitage, hate WordPress. Hey, at least I feel something for it.